It looks like we’re in for another round of that tedious old debate about whether the rich in New Zealand are heroes or whether they are crooks.
This invariably turns into a moralistic whine-fest.
Deborah Coddington kicks it off, ably assisted by David Farrar. Danyl at the DimPost puts the contra view here.
Where to start? Well, I think Deborah makes some good points but she loses me when she talks of “championing” the well off.
Successful people, by definition, don’t sit around whining no-one is championing them.
Danyl’s arguments, on the other hand, hinge on that sour, four-letter reductivist word, “just”. It is always a good idea, whenever you see the word deployed in this way, to think very carefully about what is actually being said.
This approach involves focusing on just one aspect of what went into someone’s success and implying its presence somehow invalidates the whole thing.
John Key and Sam Morgan were successful because they were just lucky, apparently.
Well, no. Other New Zealanders also set up web sites which copied eBay. The fact you probably can’t name any tells its own story.
John Key was part of a relatively lucky generation but unless he was a generation of one, which doesn’t seem very likely, so too were a hell of a lot of other people.
(I’m not out to “champion” either of those two, btw – I’m citing them because others have. )
But I think we need to get a bit less prone to label all our more financially blessed fellow Kiwis as charlatans or silver-spooners.
It seems odd to bewail our poor economic performance over the past 40 years and then in the next breath badmouth everyone who does do well for themselves.
Doing well as a country, earning enough to pay for the lifestyle we think we deserve (and as a country we do have very high expectations) means learning to get a lot more comfortable with the fact some people are going to be better off than others.
I don’t think we need a culture which “champions” wealth.
But we do need one which does not automatically seek to pull down those who have wealth-generating abilities. At present this is the default setting of all too many New Zealanders and, apart from being nasty and envious, it is quite destructive.